It’s important if you want a family to work together to be on the same page as far as what everyone wants most. You can’t necessarily push your individual beliefs on your children and expect them to not push back, and see where everyone can agree to disagree. Now that we have a support team of therapists and coordinators, the component that my wife and I care most about is stabilizing the family and learning to work towards compliance.
Instead of getting into power debates about what’s being said, we’re learning to be very short and sweet with our messages. If we see someone getting angry, we start sentences with, “I’m sorry you…” and leave situations at that. Holding our children accountable for their feelings and putting the ball back in their court in the sense that we pose questions rather than making them feel bad for their feelings. We want to encourage better choices and decision making ability, and my wife and I know this will be something that takes practice, patience and time to overcome.
My youngest spent a brief amount of time arguing with my wife about shower time tonight- she tried everything to get out of doing it, including raising her voice, yelling, claiming she couldn’t find pajamas, etc. My wife kept the message short and sweet, didn’t debate the issue, and 15 minutes later, she took the shower. Crisis averted. We can build upon this tomorrow night when my daughter may come up with a battery of different tactics to get around this power struggle.
All of us are wondering at this point how much this behavior is personality versus trauma. Because we are aware that if more of the issue is a personality conduct issue, we are probably going to have to think of different therapy models and communication styles to make the house more harmonious for all involved. We’ll need to get additional psychological assessments- which is something my youngest worries about because in her mind, these tests are pass or fail. That’s the way her mind works at this point- very black and white with no shades of gray in between.
I’m so glad that as a family we are willing to be careful with how we approach things and realize that not every therapy technique will work for our children. If you don’t think you are on the same page with a clinician, a technique, a particular behavior- it’s perfectly acceptable to modify and or completely change things up. We have only one life to live, so why bother going down the wrong road longer than you have to?
It’s also fine to make mistakes. You aren’t going to be perfect in the execution of your words and your actions. Just as children struggle to learn wrong from right in areas such as manners, social appropriateness and limits, adults aren’t given a textbook parenting manual that they study their whole lives and know how to use on the fly. What may work well one day may be completely unacceptable another- so don’t tear yourself apart thinking that you are a horrible parent.
Tomorrow we live to see another day. We hope that our youngest daughter will see how much we love and care about her, and that she doesn’t have anything to fear within the walls of our apartment.